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TB12 vs SH10: Round 1, Former QB Evaluates ND's QBs.

By: Murray O'Connell | Writer | Twitter: @MurrayOConnell | Profile: @MurrayOConnell


Image Courtesy of Nintendo


Beau knows football, specifically quarterbacks. Beau Riley has grown up his entire life playing quarterback in Texas. He was once coached by Texas High School Football icon Eddie Peach and has worked individually with fellow icon Todd Dodge.


After college, Riley had a few tryouts with some Canadian football teams, but decided to go the Arena Ball route instead playing for teams such as the Bossier City Battle Wings, Rio Grande Valley Dorados, and Odessa Roughnecks. Now Riley is a teacher and coach at the high school I teach at, so we were able to get him cheap.

The son of a coach, Riley grew up a Joe Montana fan, so much so that he’s only played wearing either a # 3 or # 16 jersey number. However, he claims to only follow the college teams his former athletes now play for, unless there is a big game of the week. This is relevant because Riley does not consider himself a member of the Subway Alum, meaning he’s a little ambivalent to Notre Dame football and is able to look at things in an entirely unbiased fashion.


The experiment:

Riley was asked to break down film, something he does frequently at his current job, and evaluate both Tyler Buchner and Sam Hartman on the opening series of their bowl games, on their first series of the second half, and on a random scoring drive. He was tasked with evaluating Buchner and Hartman the same way he would break down the opposing quarterback his team would be facing on a Friday night during football season.


Opening drive:

Buchner vs the South Carolina defense:

"It looks like it was his first time back from an injury because he’s throwing the ball really fast, but there is not a lot of wasted motion in his throw, he has a quick release, that’s good. He’s in empty formation a lot so obviously he’s a runner. When in the pocket he gets it out quick without a big wind up, that's more effective because when the pocket collapses the ball isn’t out there for a defender to reach. He does carry the ball a little low, but he can throw from different arm positions which is good because when he’s got a defender on him he’s going to have to find ways to get rid of the ball quick."


Hartman vs the Missouri defense:

"He’s done a good job stepping up in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield, that shows he has confidence in his arm. He is holding the ball low though, so when he opens up the ball is going to be more exposed. Compared to Buchner he has a slower release because he has to wind up his motion to make a throw. He puts a good touch on his passes, it takes him longer to get the throw out but he’s not late with it. Buchner could make throws like that, he just needs to learn how, but Hartman has more control over those type of passes."


Second half drive Buchner:

"He has good pocket presence even knowing he is going to take a hit after. He has a tight compact movement and keeps his eyes downfield. But none of that matters if the part of him that’s touching the ground isn’t good and he has such good quick feet. He looks like he’s doing a ladder run out there, but as long as he can put his foot down his throws will be crisp."


Second half drive Hartman:

"That long wind up is just how he throws, he knows how to make it work for him. He has good ball placement and great downfield control, when he throws a deep ball he knows exactly where it’s going. It’s like he’s not thinking with his brain, it’s almost like a zen way to throw, his entire body already knows what to do."


Buchner scoring drive:

"I just really like how quickly he gets the ball out. He’s putting it in places where the receivers have a chance. I think Hartman is better at ball placement than him, but he’s not bad. He has really good feet, good footwork. I don’t know what his top end speed is, but it doesn’t really matter because he’s able to shift and his toes just tap the ground as he moves. He’s smart enough to let his lineman do their job and just not take off every time he feels pressure."


Hartman scoring drive:

"As far as putting the ball in catchable areas for his receivers to get to, he’s great at it. He’s throwing more catchable balls than Buchner. He has great pocket presence, even with a defender grabbing him he still keeps his eyes downfield. He knows what everybody should be doing on each play, when he feels pressure he knows where he needs to look for an open receiver."


Buchner individual report:

Vision: "It’s pretty good, it looks like a lot of their play designs are set up so his progressions will eventually lead to a run, I think he sees the field pretty good because he’s throwing to guys that are open."

Arm Strength: "I didn't see a whole lot of deep balls, but he threw some good mid range balls, I would assume, from what I've seen from his form, he probably can throw it deep but with his release he maybe has some difficulty controlling where it goes. He’s no Dan Marnio, but there was another guy that wore # 3 in the 70’s for Notre Dame who didn’t have tremendous strength and ended up doing pretty ok. He’s got arm strength but maybe not arm control. Think of it like Ricky Vaughn from Major League, obviously he’s not taking anybody's head off, but it's the idea that it becomes a finesse thing to be able to really know when you throw a ball where its going to end up.

Footwork: "Obviously it’s very good. He is super quick on his toes, does a great job keeping his feet underneath him, and doesn’t overextend with his feet. He keeps his feet within his frame and allows his body to have balance."

Mobility: "He is pretty fast, pretty quick, he’s got some twinkle toes so it's hard for him to be tackled. He is good at setting up blockers by dipping in and out and allowing them to do their job."

Accuracy: "Everything is good except for the deep ball, he seems a little jittery, a little wild, but it's gonna happen. The balls were close enough to the receivers for them to be able to at least touch it, and I tell my receivers if you can touch it then you can catch it."

Intangibles: "He seems to carry himself and the team well. It's obvious the guys respond to him and his leadership. South Carolina had a really good last few games so for him to come in and run like he did, he’s got a little bit of swagger."

Hartman individual report.

Vision: "He has excellent vision, he sees the field great. He looks like he recognizes man vs zone and recognizes which routes he needs to throw to for sure."

Arm strength: "It’s good, he certainly has the ability to put and control the ball downfield. Yeah he’s kind of a stud."
Footwork: "It’s good, he kept everything underneath the frame. He didn't overreach, didn't do anything outside his body to put himself terribly out of balance. To run slow mesh you have to have good footwork in order to bring your foot back around fast and make a good throw from that mesh position."
Mobility: "He’s ok, he’s not Buchner. He’s more of a pro style quarterback that's going to stand back in pocket and throw. In the pocket he does good things, but I didn't see anything to make me think he’s a threat as a runner. When he does run he may get his 3-4 yards and then they run the next play, but if Buchner were to run he’s going to get you 10-15 yards, he’s on a different level."

Accuracy: "He’s got really good accuracy, he puts the ball where the receiver can get it, he’s able to find holes in the defense and put the ball where it needs to be. Even though he has a longer throwing release he still has good motion, it's only going to hurt him when the pocket collapses."

Intangibles: "He’s got more than a little swagger. He is really confident in what he’s doing and carries himself differently. When he’s out there he knows he’s the guy."

Now the million dollar question, if Riley was Coach Freeman, who would be leading the Irish in August in Dublin, Ireland against Navy? Both quarterbacks offer different strengths and weaknesses which affect the offense in various ways. There is however one factor that Buchner has to offer over Hartman.


“I go with Buchner because he’s there, he’s invested in the program and has experience running it. Even though Hartman is more talented, he may not have the experience in the offense yet. That’s not to say he couldn’t get it easily, but personally I’m going to stick with the guys that have been there. It’s going to be an open competition, but I’m going to dance with the one that brung me, the one that’s been in the locker room already,” said Riley.

Who ever will be leading the dance in August for the Irish has yet to be determined, but it's safe to say Notre Dame finds itself in a position at quarterback where they have not been in for a very long time. They actually have a couple of high quality options available, and one or two more waiting in the wings.



Photos courtesy of Michael Conroy AP, yahoo!sports, Gary McCullough AP. Video courtesy of ESPN.

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